Just when we thought the war on terror couldn’t be waged in more parts of the globe, news broke this week that U.S. and British spies have infiltrated online computer games looking for evidence of criminal and jihadist conspiracies.
Intelligence operatives are posing as make-believe characters to collect data from artificial worlds built by millions of couch potatoes who refuse to leave dorm rooms and parents’ basements because they’re tethered to their favorite online games. Yet these tens of thousands of young people have attracted the attention of the world’s biggest spy network.
According to National Security Agency documents, U.S. and British spies, disguised as gnomes, trolls and other creatures, lurk in the corners of several virtual worlds looking for suspicious cabals to infiltrate and alienated nerds to recruit.
Agents from the CIA, FBI and Pentagon believe online games could be a “target-rich communication network” where terrorists and criminals communicate in code. To date, however, no evidence has been divulged that terrorists have infiltrated the West’s online fantasy life.
No doubt there are real plots being hatched somewhere to harm or kill Americans, but we have to wonder if the conspirators are meeting in the virtual world of elves and monsters. They’re more likely conspiring in regions destabilized by decades of war, anarchy and poverty.
Terrorism isn’t a game for those who want to harm us. It shouldn’t be a game for those who want to protect us either.